drank Antwerp's Placebo 2019 by Mandala Tea
1219 tasting notes

The combination of aromas in the dry leaf smells almost exactly like a brand of Swedish snus called Ettan, which has the obvious rich tobacco smell as well as walnuts and chocolate.

Those same notes come through in the warmed leaf along with a spicy dark rye and a vague flowery quality. Rinsing enhances the spiciness and brings out warm yeast bread dough and mahogany furniture.

The taste is warm but the tea doesn’t warm the body. In the mouth is a clean swirl of tobacco, mahogany, goji and cucumber, very light bitterness; clean and oily. The aftertaste is sour and feeling in the body acidic which leaves me thinking this tea will benefit from time stored. I get that kind of sourness that cucumber can possess and also that of fermented cacao beans. Something also reminds me of coconut husk.

I don’t have enough left of this free sample provided by Mandala to bother storing. If this is still offered by Mandala in a few years, I’d consider buying a cake. A clean, oily shou that tastes like tobacco and mahogany is much welcome, compared to those that are muddy and taste of potting soil.

Flavors: Acidic, Bread Dough, Cacao, Camphor, Chocolate, Coconut Husk, Cucumber, Dark Wood, Drying, Flowers, Goji, Metallic, Rye, Smooth, Sour, Spicy, Tobacco, Walnut, Yeast

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If you’re an aspiring or current tea grower, let’s talk! I am slowly beginning a tea farm here in Northern California. Currently growing are young plants pulled from the ground and gifted to me after a visit to Fairhope Tea Plantation in Alabama. The parent plants are sinensis variety from a defunct Lipton research project. I’ve also started seeds from Camellia Forest Nursery in North Carolina. The types include Camellia taliensis, an assamica variety, and 3 sinensis varieties including “Small leaf” “Large leaf” and “Black Sea.” To learn how to process tea into different styles, I plan on traveling to China and Taiwan if/when COVID becomes a relative non-issue. I’m taking Mandarin classes to aid in this journey.

Tea became a hobby and my daily drink of choice some time late in the last decade. My introduction to loose leaf came, following a lone tin of some Tie Guan Yin oolong many years prior, in the form of dumpster-dived Wuyi oolong packets that somebody left upon moving out of an apartment building. From there, my palate expanded to teas from across China and the world. I used to focus more on taste and still harbor the habit, but after trying sheng pu’er, I tend to focus more on how a tea feels in my body. Does it complement my constitution? Does it change my mood or does it enhance my current mindstate? While I may not mention those effects in tea notes, it is what I value most.

Flavored teas are not a favorite but I do drink them intermittently. Drink a variety of teabags at work. Herbal teas/tisanes provide balance. Unfiltered tap water heathen (it’s good here).

In terms of who I am, you could consider me a jill of all trades. Specialty is not my strength, as can be seen in the spread of my tea notes.

One thing I will always love is riding a bicycle.


Sonoma County, California, USA

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